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This Directory of Official Information is not the current version. This is an archived version.

To view the current version please visit Directory of Official Information - December 2013.


Walking Access Commission, New Zealand

Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa

The New Zealand Walking Access Commission (the Commission) is the Crown entity that promotes access to the outdoors.

Recreational access to our lakes, beaches, rivers, and mountains is an important part of what it is to be a New Zealander. 

The Commission aims to enhance free, certain, enduring, and practical walking access to our beaches, lakes, rivers, and mountains.  The Walking Access Act 2008 gives the Commission responsibility for leading and supporting the negotiation, establishment, maintenance, and improvement of walking access and types of access that may be associated with walking access, such as access with firearms, dogs, bicycles, or motor vehicles.

The Commission has a small team in Wellington and a team of field advisors around the country to achieve these aims and objectives.

The Commission has developed a free-to-use online mapping system.  The Walking Access Mapping System (WAMS), online at, identifies public land across New Zealand.

The WAMS uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to allow users to zoom in, using topographic or aerial view, to investigate publically accessible land in any part of New Zealand.

Further enhancements to the system’s functionality and usability will continue to be made in future.

The Commission administers a contestable fund called the Enhanced Access Fund to support projects that enhance access to New Zealand's great outdoors.

The Commission is funded by Parliament through Vote: Agriculture and Forestry and is accountable for its performance to the Minister of Agriculture.


Walking Access Act 2008


In meeting its objective under section 9 of the Walking Access Act 2008, the Commission has the following functions:

  • Providing national leadership on walking access by -
    • preparing and administering a national strategy; and
    • co-ordinating walking access among relevant stakeholders and central and local government organisations, including Sport and Recreation New Zealand.
  • Providing local and regional leadership on, and co-ordination of, walking access in collaboration with local authorities.
  • Compiling, holding, and publishing maps and information about land over which members of the public have walking access.
  • Providing advice on walking access to the Minister or any other person.
  • Facilitating resolution of disputes about walking access, including initiating negotiations about disputed issues, mediating disputes, and referring disputes to a court, tribunal, or other dispute resolution body.
  • Negotiating with landholders to obtain walking access (including walkways, which are one form of walking access) over public or private land.
  • Negotiating rights in addition to any walking access that is obtained, such as the right of access with firearms, dogs, bicycles, or motor vehicles.
  • Administering a fund to finance the activities of the Commission, or any other person, in obtaining, developing, improving, maintaining, administering, and signposting walking access over any land.
  • Receiving and managing private funding, contributions, or sponsorship for the promotion of walking access.
  • Researching, educating the public about, and participating in topics and programmes related to walking access.
  • Developing, promoting, and maintaining the code of responsible conduct.
  • Administering walkways under this Act, with planning and supervision focused at a local level.
  • Monitoring the compliance with, and enforcement of, this Act in relation to walkways.

If the Commission is aware that a site is culturally sensitive, it must consider whether it is appropriate to publish a map or information indicating the location of the site before doing so.


The Commission is a Crown entity. It is governed by a Board who are appointed by Government.

The Commission has a small team based in Wellington and a network of nine regional field advisors throughout New Zealand. The role of the field advisors includes promoting the objectives and functions of the Commission in their regions, and acting as conduits for independent advice and assistance. 

NZ Walking Access structure


The principal categories of documents held by the Commission are:

  • documents relating to the servicing of the Board;
  • documents relating to the financial management of the Commission;
  • documents relating to the planning and reporting responsibilities of the Commission; and
  • documents relating to the operational work of the Commission including its responsibility for gazetted Walkways (formerly governed by the New Zealand Walkways Act 1990).


The decision-making processes associated with the key functions of the Commission are contained in Board minutes and in policies, procedures and guidelines that are held electronically and, when appropriate, replicated within the Commission’s paper-based filing system.

Full copies of all board meeting minutes are published on the Commission’s website.


The Commission has published the following documents:

  • Annual reports.
  • Statements of Intent.
  • The New Zealand Walking Access Commission National Strategy 2010-2035.
  • New Zealand Outdoor Access Code.
  • New Zealand Outdoor Access Code  - Walking Access Rights and Responsibilities (Brochure).
  • Guidelines for the Management of Unformed Legal Roads.
  • Fact sheets responding to frequently asked access-related questions.
  • The Commission produces an ‘Accessing New Zealand’ newsletter three times per year.  The newsletter is sent out to stakeholders and other subscribers to keep them up-to-date with the Commission’s work and access issues around New Zealand.


There are no major changes currently proposed.


National Office

New Zealand Walking Access Commission

Level 6

48-54 Mulgrave Street

PO Box 12348

Thorndon 6144

Phone: (04) 8158502